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The Sydney Morning Herald

Pay television finally tees off but it's sport only

Author: Jane Freeman
Date: 23/01/1995
Words: 475
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: THE GUIDE
Page: 3
JUST when it seemed pay TV would remain as elusive as the average remote control, this week finally sees the birth of Australia's first pay TV channel. It is the eight-channel Galaxy service. The first channel to air will be the Prime Sports Network (PSN), produced by Australis Media, a 24-hour sports channel which premieres (some might say inevitably) on Australia Day.

PSN kicks off at 4 pm on Thursday with a profile of the station followed by a documentary on cricketer Brian Lara. From 5.30 pm, the network will show the Johnnie Walker Asian Classic golf tournament live from the Philippines.

There has already been criticism that Australia's first pay TV sports service focuses heavily on overseas sports - NBA basketball, European and Brazilian soccer, English rugby league, world champion wrestling and trick shot snooker. The free-to-your-house channels Nine and Seven already have the rights to the major summer sports events, such as cricket and tennis.

PSN spokesman Michael Kelly points to compensations. He says viewers will be given a chance to see Australians, such as Greg Norman, compete in overseas events that are not being screened on commercial networks.

"In 24 hours of coverage, there will be something for everybody," he says. "We may not have access to rugby league or the AFL yet but that is offset by the incredible diversity of stuff we are showing." The channel has signed up presenters such as David Hookes and Dean Jones (cricket), Ben Elias (rugby league), Neil Cordy (AFL football) and sports journalists Peter FitzSimons, Andy Paschalidis and John Casey. Sure, there won't be a lot of local stuff for them to present, but Kelly says they will do introductions and commentary on overseas events.

Australis Media revealed early this month that it had purchased the rights to the Australia-West Indies Test series. While the Federal Government has not yet confirmed that it will permit the Test to be screened on pay TV, Kelly says PSN is confident it will show the Test from March.

On Thursday, Galaxy will also screen previews on its two movie channels. Showtime is dedicated to the first TV run of movies that have already been seen in the cinemas (and 18 months before the free-to-air channels get a crack at them) and Encore, the "classic movie channel", features hits from the '60s, '70s and '80s.

By the end of March, Galaxy estimates it will be up and running with movies, 24-hour news, 24-hour general entertainment, children's shows, music and an adventure/documentary channel.

PSN'S HIGH SCORERS JANUARY 26-27: Johnnie Walker Asian Classic golf, live, 5.30-8.30 pm. NBA game of the week, same-day transmission, regular Friday slot.

JANUARY 28: Johnnie Walker, day three live, 5-8 pm. UK rugby league game of the week.

JANUARY 29: Johnnie Walker, final day live, 5-8 pm. FA Cup soccer, same-day transmission.

FEBRUARY 2: Heineken Classic golf in Perth, live, runs until February 5. USA PGA Golf Tour, runs most days until February 26.

FEBRUARY 5: Five Nations Rugby Union Challenge, live, until March.

FEBRUARY 15: New Zealand Centenary Tournament cricket, live, daily 8 am to 4.30 pm, two hours nightly from 10 pm until February 26.

FEBRUARY 19: FA Cup soccer, live 2-4 am plus replay, also Feb 20, 21.

FEBRUARY 20: Daytona 500 motor racing, live, 4-7.30 am.

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